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Giving Gardasil to Boys Not Worth the Cost
Date:10/8/2009

But other experts dispute finding, and say young men need protection from STDs

THURSDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The cost of giving boys the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine would outweigh any health benefit, researchers say.

Last month, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel recommended expanding use of the Gardasil vaccine to males aged 9 to 26 to protect them from genital warts, but the cost effectiveness of such a program was unclear at the time.

But researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted such an analysis comparing a girls-only vaccination program with a co-ed vaccination program. Currently, Gardasil is approved for girls aged 9 and over to protect them from cervical cancer.

"This study found that while vaccine coverage and efficacy are high in girls, including boys in an HPV vaccination program generally exceeds what the U.S. typically considers good value for money," said lead researcher Jane Kim, an assistant professor of health decision science.

The report is published in the Oct. 9 online edition of the British Medical Journal.

Vaccination was considered a good value if cost-effectiveness ratios ranged from $50,000 to $100,000 per quality-adjusted life year, meaning the cost of the vaccine vs. the number of added years someone would gain by getting the vaccine.

Assuming 75 percent coverage and lifelong protection, the researchers found routine vaccination of 12-year-old girls was a good value at less than $50,000 per quality-adjusted life year. However, adding preadolescent boys increased the cost-effectiveness ratio to more than $100,000 per quality-adjusted life year. The researchers considered treatment for conditions caused by HPV, including anogenital and oral cancers, genital warts, and juvenile-onset recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.

"Only under optimistic assumptions of high, lifelong vaccine efficacy against all
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